Assembled by Steven Mann for the Friends of the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery
In section number one of the historic Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, not far from the beautiful fountain, sundial, and office, rests a young minister and his wife. While this may not seem unusual, the depth of the information that exists on this man of the cloth and his short life is.
His name was Joseph Paige Davis. He was born in Guilderland, Albany County, New York on November 9, 1859, to Reverend William Paige Davis and the former Elizabeth Bullock. Rev. Davis, Sr. was a Dutch Reformed minister in the Guilderland/Schenectady area.
Rev. Joseph Paige Davis graduated in 1881 from prestigious Union College in Schenectady, New York. He then studied for three years at the Theological Seminary at New Brunswick, New Jersey. During that time he supplied the pulpit of the Freedom Plains Presbyterian Church in LaGrange, Dutchess County, New York. This is likely where he met his bride to be, the former Louise Van Benschoten, daughter of Henry E. Van Benschoten and Mary Jane Ver Valin. Her parents were both from influential families in the town of LaGrange who worshiped at Freedom Plains. He wed his bride on August 27, 1884.
The young couple lived first in Becker's Corners as surviving correspondence shows. This is a small four corners area still marked as such as one drives north on Route 9-W in the area of Selkirk in Albany County. There, he served the pulpit of the First Reformed Church of Bethlehem at Selkirk, a parish still very much active. A couple of years later he answered the call to serve as pastor of the Third Reformed Church of Albany, then located in the proximity of what is today Albany's South Mall built by Governor Nelson Rockefeller in the 1960s and early 1970s as part of Albany's urban renewal and the State's growing bureaucracy during his administration. Much of that neighborhood surrounding the Governor's Mansion and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was torn down as was the site of that church. The neighborhood would have been in his day primarily Italian, Irish and German. Today, Third Reformed is now located off Delaware Avenue in Albany on Ten Eyck Street, named for one of the city's founding Dutch families, in a modern structure.
While living in Albany the young couple resided at 202 Elm Street. This house would have been right near the Governor's Mansion, likely on part of the site of the existing New York State Museum, Library and Archives. What is left today of that neighboring part of Elm Street is a series of row houses, mostly painted brick, with very tall ceilings and now rented basement apartments for housing State workers at the nearby South Mall or inside the Empire State Plaza, some of which runs underground. In his papers, which are being properly archived and preserved by his four great-grandchildren, are numerous receipts showing improvements to the house on Elm Street.
The young minister died of the fever during a time when medicine did not allow for quick cures, leaving his young wife and baby son. His widow was left to plan his funeral and burial in the Davis family plot at the Prospect Hill Cemetery in Guilderland. This cemetery is located on a high hill with an extremely steep drive about one mile west of Crossgates Mall on Western Avenue (Route 20). The hill is so steep that the cemetery, which is not a small cemetery, even today is closed in the winter as one cannot easily access the site. It is the resting place for the parts of the old Blessing, Bradt, Dutcher, LaGrange, Van Bramer, Vedder, and Westervelt families of the Guilderland/Albany area.
A traditional Church funeral had been planned by the young widow for the afternoon of April 19, 1887, in the city of Albany. However, a two-page letter must have arrived the day before, as it is dated April 18, 1887. It was from the City of Albany's Board of Health stating that the plans were in violation of Section 39 of the Sanitary Code of the City of Albany, "There shall not be a public or church funeral of any person who has died of small-pox, Diptheria, scarlet fever, yellow fever, or Asiatic cholera, and the family of the deceased is required to limit the attendance to as few as possible, and to prevent the presence, so far as possible, of those liable to contract the disease of which the deceased person died". It was the writer's "duty to direct that the funeral be private, as few people being present as may be, and that the body be taken direct from the house to the cemetery. To violate the provisions of the sanitary code is a misdemeanor, and for the protection of the public health it is necessary that every precaution against the spread of contagion be taken".
"It had been stated that Mr. Davis died of pneumonia, but he having scarlet fever as the same time, the pneumonia becomes but a complication of the primary disease, and the same sanitary precautions must be observed as if death was directly caused by the contagious disease". The letter is signed, "Very respectfully, your dedicated servant, Lewis Balchy, Health Officer". So, what was the young widow who was left with a very young son to raise, do? The story now returns to Dutchess County.
The plans apparently changed quickly. An undated and unheadlined article from a Dutchess County newspaper, signed by James B. Boldane, stated that, "The funeral service will be held in the Third Reformed Church, Albany, Tuesday afternoon at three o'clock, and in the Freedom Plains church, this county, on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m." This likely was printed before the letter arrived on Monday, April 18, 1887, a mere 24 hours before the planned service. It was extremely important to Louise that her husband, as a man of God, should have a proper church service and burial.
Likely Louise either had family members from Dutchess County at the house, namely her parents or one of three siblings (Anna, Elias, or John), or she telegrammed home to Dutchess County inquiring what to do. Whatever the situation may have been, the family archives contains a few original copies of the black-bordered invitation to Rev. Joseph Paige Davis' memorial service and answers some questions. There was a memorial service held at the Third Reformed Church of Albany, then at the corner of S. Ferry and Green Sts., Sunday, May 1, at 3:00 PM. Eulogies were provided by Revs. Wesley R. Davis, D.D., J. W. Chapman, Edwin F. See, and John McC. Holmes, D.D.
So, did Dutchess County have more lenient health codes, or did the family appeal to the local authorities to allow a full funeral service to take place regardless of the code? No correspondence survives to answer that question and as of writing time did not allow for research of the old health codes. However, if this had occurred today, we can imagine one phone call could do the trick. In any event, Rev. Joseph Paige Davis was buried in Section One of Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. His wife Louise lived many years and was buried there. Interestingly, Rev. Davis is buried right near two other Van Benschoten allied families - the Cronkhites and the Hookers. All three families are related, and work continues on their extensive family genealogy by Rev. Davis' great-grandchildren.
The family has indicated that Louise returned to Dutchess County and raised her son here. She later lived with her widowed brother Elias, whose young wife, the former Helen Lossing Titus of the Titusville Tituses, had died without issue, and kept house for him. They also indicate that the young boy, Joseph P. Davis born April 4, 1886, was raised with Elias Van Benschoten as his male role model, or father figure. Elias owned Van Benschoten Hardware on Main Street in Poughkeepsie. Joseph P. Davis married the former Virginia Duncan of Pleasant Valley and went on to run the business for Elias. They had a son Joseph Paige Davis who died at age six as a result of an infection from a knee wound, and a daughter Hazel Jane Davis. Joe Davis then took his son in law, Lawrence A. Heaton, into the business. So the young son of the late Rev. Joseph P. Davis was a success. He became very influential in local affairs and served as trusted executor to numerous estates. Also of interest, soon to be born is a little girl who will be Rev. Joseph P. Davis and his wife Louise Van Benschoten's great-great-great granddaughter, and she will have Louise in her name.
In remembering Rev. Davis, the writer wishes to quote from a letter dated Pleasant Valley, May 7, 1887, to Mrs. Louise Davis, 202 Elm Street, Albany, NY and postmarked curiously May 6, 1887: "Dear friend Louise: I have been trying for the past three weeks to find time to write you. Louise, I hardly know how or what to write you in this time of trouble and sorrow. Oh how often I have thought of you and how deeply I sympathize with you, but we must look to a higher power for consolation and through his grace we can be comforted. Only trust him! We owe an apology to you for not attending the services at Freedom Plains, we were misinformed otherwise we would have been with you".
The letter goes on with a little local news and then closes, "I must close now, take care of yourself and try to become reconciled to the loss of your Dear one. Hoping to see you before long I am your friend Annie F. Card". Many other letters exist and carry the same message, hope and solace. Interestingly, a few letters are written to Mrs. Davis around the same time and are addressed to her at Freedom Plains. Many times minister's widows and families were asked to vacate the "parsonage" immediately after the death of a minister so that a new one could move right in. This was likely the case with Louise and her son. Fortunately, she had much family she could rely on at home in Dutchess County.
It is of note that in the family archive are also numerous sermons written by the young minister as well as some of his college papers written at Union. There are also several boxes of books from his personal library which the family has to accompany these letters. A very special document is Rev. Davis' record book which contains the baptisms, marriages, and funerals he presided over during his ministry. How fortunate that for over almost 125 years these records have survived to tell this story.
The Friends of the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery are indebted to the Heaton children: Joyce, Virginia, Hooker and Joanne, and to their children, Rev. Davis' great-grandchildren, for allowing us access to their private family papers. They are indeed thanked by our entire membership.
The DeGarmo and Smith Men of Luckey, Platt & Co., Poughkeepsie, NY by by Steven MannSmith Lawrence DeGarmo was born on October 10, 1842, at Highland, Ulster County on what was the DeGarmo family farm. He moved with his parents to Dutchess County while nine years of age. He was educated at the New Paltz Academy and later a private school kept by Rev. Sherman Hoyt, Presbyterian minister, at Dutchess County.
In November 1868, he came to work as a clerk in the furnishing goods store of a maternal relative, Thomas A. Lawrence. In spring 1869, he entered the firm of William H. Broas selling dry goods.
In 1870, Smith DeGarmo accepted the position of salesman at the store of Luckey & Platt, which was formed in 1869 from the firm of Luckey, Vail & Mandeville. He was admitted to the firm in 1872, and died on April 30, 1915. He was one of the three original members of the firm with Mr. C. P. Luckey and Mr. E. P. Platt, that was to be known as Luckey, Platt & Co. Mr. DeGarmo is buried at Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery as is his nephew, William DeGarmo Smith.
Mr. DeGarmo came from a long line of French Huguenots. His family settled in Ulster County in the rural farming community of Butterville. What is left of Butterville is located just down the old road from Mohonk Mountain House, outside of New Paltz. His grandmother, Hannah (Sutton) DeGarmo, widow of Rowland DeGarmo, is buried in the old Quaker Cemetery on the east side of that road, right at the hairpin curve. She may not be the only DeGarmo buried there, however many of the earlier buried Quakers did not have gravestones as gravestones were seen as vanity by many Quakers until the 1840s. The old Quaker meeting house was moved further down that road and still stands, in front of a neighboring c 1870 farm house. The Butterville Preparative Meeting was run as a mission of the (New) Paltz Preparative Meeting from 1894 until 1900. Remaining Quakers went to services either at Mohonk or at Poughkeepsie. He is descended from Thomas Lawrence, a Quaker preacher, and Captain Jonathan Lawrence, a captain in the Revolutionary War buried at Esopus in a private family burial ground.
Others members of the DeGarmo family are buried at the Friends of Progress Cemetery hidden on the west side of Route 9W, just north of the Ship's Lantern Inn Restaurant. The next generation of ancestors is buried at the Crum Elbow Friends Burial Ground on Quaker Lane in Hyde Park. This being the case as much of the DeGarmo family moved from Ulster County to central Dutchess County. Over a dozen of that and the next generation are buried in several different plots at Wiltwyck Cemetery in Kingston.
William DeGarmo Smith was president and general manager of Luckey, Platt & Co., Poughkeepsie, NY. He was brought into the business by his uncle, Smith Lawrence DeGarmo, mentioned above. He entered service to the firm on November 6, 1901, and became secretary and treasurer of the same firm on February 19, 1912.
He quickly advanced to the position of vice-president on January 26, 1914, and became president and general manager on June 5, 1915, shortly after the death of his uncle Smith DeGarmo. Although from Quaker stock, Smith was associated with Christ Church (Episcopal) in Poughkeepsie.
Two State Representatives Who Ran Against Each Other
Stephen Baker and Homer Augustus Nelson are both buried in the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. Baker is in Section N overlooking the beautiful Hudson River while Nelson is buried in historic Section C. Both served in New York's 12th District in the United States House of Representatives. Nelson succeeded Baker on March 4, 1863, Baker having served 1861-3. Baker was a Lincoln Republican while Nelson was a Democrat. Both served only one two-year term.
Baker was born in New York City on August 12, 1819. He was engaged in the woolen goods business for some time. He moved to Poughkeepsie in 1850, and there became active in politics.
At Poughkeepsie he was elected to the 37th Congress, serving March 4, 1861-March 3, 1863. He died enroute to California for his deteriorating health, on a train near Ogden, Utah, on June 9, 1875. He was returned to Poughkeepsie and interred here. Stephen Baker is buried one row closer to the river than this author's plot. A descendant of his still comes to the cemetery and tends to the grave with fresh flowers.
His son, Stephen Baker, Jr., was president/chair of the board of the Bank of the Manhattan Company, the earliest predecessor to Chase Bank, and was an associate of the famed tycoon John D. Rockefeller, Jr. of Pocantico Hills, NY.
More information exists on Homer Augustus Nelson. He studied law in the offices of Tallman & Dean, Varick & Eldridge, and Charles H. Ruggles. He was admitted to the New York State Bar. He practiced in Poughkeepsie, and was County Judge in Dutchess from 1855-62. At the close of his term, he declined an appointment in diplomatic service, offered by President Abraham Lincoln.
He was a veteran of the Civil War who became Colonel of the 159th NY Volunteer Infantry. He left that assignment when he took his seat in the 38th Congress. Nelson lost his reelection bid in 1864, serving only until March 3, 1865. He became a delegate to the NY State Constitutional Convention of 1867.
Homer was selected Secretary of State in 1867, serving until 1871. He later became a State Senator in New York 1882-3. He was appointed a member of the commission to revise the judiciary articles of the New York State Constitution, in 1890.
His better known cases included the contest of the Matthew Vassar will and defending the noted Jacob Sharp. He was fond of hunting and fishing and other field sports. He married but had no children.
Locally, he served on the boards of the Vassar Home for Aged Men and was Director of the Central Cross-Town Railroad of Poughkeepsie and the City Railroad Company of Poughkeepsie.
Nelson died on April 25, 1891, at age 61, and was buried at the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. Much of the information I gleaned on Nelson was from a New York Times obituary dated April 26, 1891.
They were residents of Poughkeepsie, NY. In that same location is a monument in memory of two sisters, Mary Louise Scrymser wife of William Henry Merritt and Annie Scrymser who were lost at sea and whose bodies were not recovered. They lost their lives aboard the S. S. ATLANTIC of the White Star Line during her 19th voyage on Saturday, April 1, 1873.
The investigation into the accident began at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Saturday, April 5, 1873, and continued for several weeks. The work of recovering the dead, cargo and valuables has been carried on by fishermen and divers of Marr's Island. Each day bodies are raised via the grappling-irons until more than 250 had been interred ashore. Most were placed in coffins provided by officials at Halifax, and the bodies not recognized or taken away by friends repose in the Nova Scotia burying-grounds.
When the bodies of all the deceased were first brought ashore, their examination and identification were loosely conducted. In many cases money was taken off their persons. Several men from New York who were looking for deceased friends protested against this. Divers went out to the wreck in boats and dove looking for casualties. They reported that the water was clear and every object easy to see. The following is a description of the interior of the hull as seen by a diver.
"The air from above, which is furnished through the rubber tube, comes with a hissing sound, producing a strange feeling. I shudder at the thought of being immersed so deeply, and how slight an accident would insure instant destruction. All around the objects looked weird-like, the glasses in the casque magnifying the already bloated forms into twice their size. The waters are very cold, and a chilly feeling creeps over me at first, but as I proceed it wears away, and I enter upon the task I have undertaken with more nerve than I fancied I possessed. The immense hull lies down on the port side, which is broken in several places from contact with the reef. Fish were swimming around, eagerly devouring the particles of food which are to be picked up. Picking my way toward the hull, I catch hold of a rope and scramble up the deck. The place where I have descended is where the ship parted, and a sectional view of the hull and cargo is obtained. The forward hatch is open, and I peer down the hold." And it goes on.
The Atlantic was built by the firm Harland and Wolff in Belfast in 1870. It was the second ship built for the new White Star Line. She had a steam engine producing 600 horsepower driving a single propeller with four masts rigged for sail. She sailed for New York on her maiden voyage on June 8, 1871. She weighed 3,707 tons, and traveled a speed of 14.5 knots.
Today, most of the ship lies fragmented under 40-60 feet of water. Artifacts from several salvage operations can be found displayed at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic at Halifax, and at the SS Atlantic Heritage Park and Interpretation Center at Terence Bay, Nova Scotia. A monument of the wreck is found at the mass grave in the Terence Bay Anglican Cemetery. A smaller monument marks a second mass grave at the local Catholic cemetery.
At the time, this was the worst maritime disaster for Canada in the 19th century. It is said 546 out of the total 975 on board perished. It is incredible that of those, two are buried at the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery while two more are memorialized there, in the same plot.
It is important to note that this is NOT the William Hamilton Merritt (1793-1862) who was a founder of the Welland Canal , born at Bedford, Westchester County, NY. However, that William H. Merritt did die in 1862 aboard a ship near Cornwall, Ontario, Canada and is buried at the Victoria Lawn Cemetery at St. Catherine's, Ontario, Canada. More ironically, that William H. Merritt's son was the late Thomas Rodman Merritt, a member of the Canadian House of Commons, who shared the same middle name as the Mary Merritt interred at Poughkeepsie. [Genealogical note: The Rodmans were a wealthy industrialist family with strong connections in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area and were Quaker as were the Merritt ancestors.]
And in answer to an unasked question……The Titanic was a White Star Line ship.
A Visit from St. Nicholas, now referred to as The Night Before Christmas, is perhaps the best known of the Christmas holiday children's stories. Poughkeepsie's own Henry Livingston Jr. has been credited with writing this beautiful story. Many of Henry's published stories and poems were written between the time his first wife died and his marriage to the second.
As part of the recent historic tour of the cemetery cosponsored by the Friends, one of the impersonators was Michael Frazier of Rhinebeck. Michael is a retired local educator and in retirement is serving as Treasurer of the Rhinebeck Historical Society and is a former President of The Museum of Rhinebeck History. He has authored a history of Rhinebeck published by Arcadia Press. He portrayed Abraham Lincoln in Rhinebeck on July 4 and was the perfect choice for portraying Henry Livingston
Henry was the son of Dr. Henry Gilbert Livingston and Susannah Storm Conklin. His grandfather was the noted Capt. Jan Storm, a founder of the First Reformed Church of Poughkeepsie. He was born October 13, 1748, in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, NY and died February 29, 1828 in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, NY. He married (1) SARAH WELLES May 18, 1774 in Stamford, CT, daughter of the noted REVEREND NOAH WELLES of Stamford, CT's First Congregational Church and ABAGAIL WOOLSEY. Sarah was born November 07, 1752 in Stamford and died there in September 01, 1783. At that time he had his children boarded out and he concentrated on writing. He married (2) JANE M. PATTERSON September 01, 1793. She was born January 22, 1769 and died August 26, 1835.
Known as Major Henry Livingston for his service in the Revolutionary War, he was also a Judge, having been appointed by Governor Clinton. Like his father he was a surveyor and map maker by profession. Of course, he may be best known for his prowess as an author. Henry is buried in the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery with many other family members. Henry and Sarah had ten children, not all of whom lived to marry. He later had five children with Jane.
During his widowerhood of ten years, the Major was occupied with poetry and drawings for his friends and family, some of which ended up in the pages of NEW YORK MAGAZINE and the POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL. Although he signed his drawings, his poetry was usually anonymous or signed simply, "R".
There has been great controversy over the years about Livingston having written the Christmas poem as it first appeared in the TROY SENTINAL on December 23, 1823. The poem definitely came out of the home of Clement Moore, and the person giving the poem to the newspaper, without Moore's knowledge, certainly believed the poem had been written by Moore. It is documented, however, that several of Livingston's children remembered their father reading that very same poem to them a good 15 years prior to the 1823 publication date.
It has been recorded that as early as 1837, Charles Fenno Hoffman, a friend of Moore's, put Moore's name on the poem. In 1844, Moore published the poem in his own book, POEMS. At various times in his later life, Moore wrote out the poem in longhand to give to his close friends. Even English department faculty at Vassar College have gotten into the controversy in the last decade and are quite sure Livingston did author the original document.
The mystery remains tucked away, perhaps with the remains of the esteemed Henry Livingston, in his burial plot at the historic Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery.
Margaret Brainard Hamilton
Margaret Brainard Hamilton was cremated in May 1985 at the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, and her ashes were scattered in Amenia, NY, which is not too far from Poughkeepsie.
Margaret was born December 9, 1902 in Cleveland, Ohio, as the youngest of four children to Walter J. and Jennie (Adams) Hamilton. She was educated at the prestigious Hathaway Brown School and Wheelock College in Boston. She was trained to be a kindergarten school teacher, which she did only a short time before becoming a character actress in films for seven years prior to being cast in the Wizard of Oz in 1939, not only as the Wicked Witch of the West, but as Miss Almira Gulch, the kind neighbor of Dorothy Gale and her grandparents. In 1940, she played in My Little Chickadee and in 1948 the less-known Bungalow 13. She worked hard to support herself and her son as a single mother, and she never worked under a studio contract but asked for $1,000 a week for her acting.
Ms. Hamilton remained an active actress for many years, doing commercial and TV sitcom work. She was a noted advocate for children and animals, and public education. In the 1940s-1950s she played in The Couple Next Door, a radio series where she was Aunt Eva/Effie (the name changed). In 1960, she played maid Elaine Zacharides in director/producer William Castle’s 13 Ghosts, a horror film of note at the time. In 1965-6, she played Morticia Adams’ mother Hester Frump in The Addams Family three times. She had turned down the memorable role of Grandmama. During that time she was a regular on the CBS soap opera The Secret Storm as housekeeper Katie. In the early 1970s she played Miss Peterson on the CBS soap opera As The World Turns.
In 1976, she played a witch opposite Oscar the Grouch on Episode #847 on Sesame Street. That same year she played on the Paul Lynde Holloween Special as the housekeeper resembling her earlier Wicked Witch role and introduced Lynde to the rock group Kiss. She also appeared as herself in an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. In 1979 and 1982, she played veteran journalist Thea Taft on Lou Grant. She finally retired from acting in 1982, at age 80.
She married Paul Boynton Meserve on June 13, 1931, divorcing in 1938. She never remarried. They had one son, Hamilton Wadsworth Meserve who she solely raised. Her three grandchildren are Christopher, Scott and Margaret Meserve.
She died on May 16, 1985 at age 82 in Salisbury, Connecticut. She will forever be remembered by millions of people throughout the world as the “Wicked Witch of the West” in the Wizard of Oz. According to the website Wikipedia, Ms. Hamilton was ranked #4 in the American Film Institute’s list of the 50 Best Movie Villains of All Time, making her the highest ranked female villain.
by Steven Mann
THE SMITH BROTHERS
In 1847, James Smith moved to Poughkeepsie, New York from Quebec, Canada to establish a
restaurant. He had been born in Scotland and emigrated to Canada in 1831. He and his wife
had sons William and Andrew.
In Poughkeepsie James Smith opened an ice cream shop called James Smith and Son. The
restaurant, later known as Smith Brothers, became a Poughkeepsie institution on Market Street.
It was to become as revered by locals as the noted Nelson House. James purchased a cough
drop recipe from a peddler named Sly Hawkins and in 1852 the first batch was produced.
In 1852 James Smith took his first advertisement in the local paper inviting all "afflicted with
hoarseness, coughs or colds" to test his "cough candy" which he began selling on a small scale
circa 1850. ln 1866, following their father's death, they inherited their father's business and
the company officially became known as Smith Brothers.
ln 1872 the brothers developed the famed packaging which shows their likenesses. lt was one
of the first "factory filled" packages ever developed in this country. In the Smith Brothers
packaging the word Trade was found under William's picture and the word Mark was found
under Andrew's picture. This is how to millions of Americans they became known as Trade and
Mark and not as William and Andrew.
William was the philanthropist and community leader acting on behalf of the brothers. He
donated $140,000.00 to expand the Vassar Warner Home on South Hamilton Street and land in
Southfield, Massachusetts for Camp Wa Wa Segowea.
Andrew, born in 1836, never married and died in 1895. However, his brother William, who was
born in St. Armand, Quebec, Canada had offspring and continued as President of Smith
Brothers almost to his death in 1913. This was the end of the second generation of family
After his death, son Arthur G. Smith took over and the business continued to succeed. Menthol
cough drops were added in 1922, a cough syrup in 1926 and the noted wild cherry flavor in
1948. The fourth generation was Arthur's sons William Wallace Smith and Robert Lansing
Smith. lt was continued as a family business until 1964 when it was purchased by Warner-
Lambert. ln 1977 manufacturing was moved to Chicago, Illinois.
The Smith Brothers are buried in the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery.
Information used in the preparation of this article was gleaned from several sources including recent articles in the
POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL and from the official Smith Brothers web site
The Trolley Waiting Shelter
The Trolley Waiting Station and the Old Trolley
A joint effort by the Staff of the Cemetery and Steven Mann
Many years ago, Poughkeepsie, like many other cities in America, had a trolley system with tracks that ran down the main streets. The trolley waiting shelter immediately north of the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery’s main entrance is a relic from that. Constructed of red brick with a wooden shingle roof the circular structure with its built-in benches was used as an outdoor waiting room for those who needed to get on the trolley to reach work, home, go shopping, to school, worship, etc. The shelter is now most visible given the necessary revamping of the cemetery’s main entrance landscape and is an incredible sight that had been hidden by large dense hemlocks.
At some point in his multi-faceted and diversified business career, James W. Hinkley, Sr., of the estate Eden Hill on the south end of the city of Poughkeepsie, purchased the old Poughkeepsie City Railroad Company. He then organized the Poughkeepsie City and Wappinger Falls Railway Company. He served as president until death in 1904 at age 53.
Previous to this he had edited and owned the News-Press of Poughkeepsie and later the Daily Graphic in New York City, which was the first illustrated daily newspaper in the world. Both were pioneers in the field of journalism, employing women in their editorial departments as early as 1883. Perhaps Mr. Hinkley became emerged in transportation after having become involved in the operation of an electric manufacturing company which made motors and generators. This was The Walker Company, which Westinghouse Company later purchased. We can only surmise this could have been.
Upon purchasing the Poughkeepsie City Railroad Company, horse-drawn trolley car service ran along the tracks in the city of Poughkeepsie. They were later electrified and an expansion of track was made to the north and south of the city. The Wappingers Falls line began running October 1, 1894. Modern urban growth became possible and successful with help from the trolley system. Until World War I, the lines grew and bustled. However, that growth eventually stopped when bus service began in October 1928, quickly taking the place of the trolleys.
Mrs. Mary Hinkley, wife of James W. Hinkley, donated the trolley waiting shelter at the cemetery. Many, but not all, of the riders who got on or off from the cemetery were workers at the cemetery who lived in Wappingers Falls. Today the shelter has been restored with funding provided by The Friends of the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. We may never again hear the “clang, clang, clang” of the trolley, but we can sit in the trolley waiting station remembering nostalgia of the past while enjoying the beauty of the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, once a stop on the local trolley.
Some years back, while browsing microfilms of early Poughkeepsie newspapers, I came across an article from the Sunday Courier published March 13, 1892 entitled "Our Streets in 1799 and 1892" with one of the subtitles being "Origin of the Names of Many of the Streets". This article captured my interest because I, perhaps like many of you over the years, had wondered how streets received their names. One in particular came to mind, Hooker Avenue, because as these things sometimes go, how Hooker Avenue was named was often not presented in the best context. My inquiring mind wanted to know the real story.
The Courier article appears to have given a much more credible meaning to the naming of Hooker Avenue than those I may have heard earlier in my school years but never asked my parents about. "The origin of the names of many of the older streets is unknown. In addition to those given earlier in this article, there is. . . . . .Hooker Avenue after James Hooker; . . . . ."
Pictured preceding this article is the large cathedral style monument which marks the underground vault beneath the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery lots purchased by James Hooker November 11, 1853 in Section J. The base, with "Hooker" engraved on one side and on the opposite side, "Hamersley", is stately indeed. The 1892 Courier article states ". . .Hammersley avenue after J. H. Hammersley; . . ." Although the duplication of the letter "m" does not appear on the tombstone, both are the same surname as I have often discovered both spellings while researching the same family. James Hooker Hamersley was the grandson of James Hooker.
Who was James Hooker?
James Hooker was born July 12, 1792 in Windsor, Connecticut, the son of James and Mary (Chafee) Hooker and the 3rd great grandson or Rev. Thomas Hooker, born in England who came to America on the ship "Griffin" in 1633. James Hooker's grandfather Nathaniel Hooker, born 1710, was a prominent man in Colonial affairs, a captain in the militia, and a merchant in Hartford, CT. 
James Hooker entered Yale about 1806 and graduated with honors in 1810. One of his classmates was S. F. B. Morse. After graduation from Yale he settled in Poughkeepsie as a place to study law and did so under the most prominent lawyers of the day in Poughkeepsie. James Hooker quickly became one of the highest regarded counselors in the county. 
On January 24, 1816 he married Helen Sarah Reade, the youngest daughter of John and Catherine (Livingston) Reade. Her mother was a descendant of Robert Livingston, 1st Lord of the Manor and her father, was a descendant of Lawrence Reade, who was for many years Senior Warden of Trinity Church, and after whom Reade Street, in New York City is named.
James and Helen Sarah (Reade) Hooker's daughter, Catherine Livingston Reade Hooker, born 1817, married James William Hamersley and it is after their son James Hooker Hamersley (1844-1901) that we owe the name of another Poughkeepsie Street or shall we say, Avenue.
Judge James Hooker, attorney & counselor at law, Dutchess County Surrogate, Director of the Hudson River Railroad, one of the earliest owners of a plot in Poughkeepsie Rural cemtery and prominent well-landed local citizen died suddenly at Poughkeepsie on September 3, 1858.  His wife died January 30, 1879.
Once again, we see another aspect of how our local history relates to Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. It's all relative.
 The Descendants of Rev. Thomas Hooker, Hartford, Connecticut 1586-1908 by Edward Hooker, Commander, U. S. N., Edited by Margaret Huntington Hooker and printed for her at Rochester, N. Y. 1909
 History of Duchess County, New York, by James H. Smith, 1882, D. Mason & Co., Syracuse, NY
 Poughkeepsie Daily Press, Saturday, September 4, 1858, Newspaper published at Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, NY
The Friends of Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery
by Virginia A. Buechele, April 23, 2010
Reflections on The First Interments; Little Flowers Gone Too Young, But Not Forgotten by Ginny Buechele
Reflections on The First Interments; Little Flowers Gone Too Young, But Not Forgotten
Ere sin could harm, or sorrow fade,
Death came with friendly care;
The opening bud to heaven conveyed,
and had it blossom there.
This lovely bud, so young, so fair,
Called hence by early doom,
Just came to show how sweet a flower
In Paradise would bloom.
There in the Shepherd's bosom,
White as the drifted snow,
Is the little lamb we missed one morn
From our household flock below.
So the bud of our bosom fluttered up to the dawn,
A window was opened - our darling was gone!
A tenant from time, from fears, and from sin,
For the Angel on watch took our little flower in.
Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery “was dedicated with solemn and appropriate ceremonies to the sacred purposes for which it is used” on November 2, 1853. (The Rural Cemetery, 40 years Since It Was Dedicated To Its Present Uses; The Courier; Poughkeepsie, N. Y., August 27, 1893) In the same article The Courier also reported 9,000 interments within the cemetery boundaries.
In locating this 1893 article, this writer found her interest peeked. This article was the impetus to research further regarding the first interments in “The Rural Cemetery”.
Early cemetery records revealed the first two interments in the cemetery occurred November 23, 1853. However, they were in reality re-interments from the “Episcopal Burying Ground Poughkeepsie”:
Eliza Bodden; born Springfield; resided Springfield; died Nov. 28, 1843; interred November 23, 1853; Lot 38 Section J; and,
Washington Bodden; born Springfield; resided Springfield; died January 29, 1845; interred November 23, 1853; Lot 38 Section J.
As near as can be determined from: cemetery office records which note William Bodden as the owner of Lot 38 in Section J; tombstone inscriptions from the Bodden monument in Section J; and, information from “The Dutchess County Commemorative and Biographical Record” (J. H. Beers & Co., Chicago, 1897), Eliza and Washington both died at age 2. They were the children of William and Elizabeth (Wilson) Bodden.
Born 1813, William Bodden was a native of Scotland who came to America with his father at the age of four (4). Bodden came to the Town of Poughkeepsie in 1830 and settled on his 130 farm near Camelot where he specialized in raising fruit. He was a consistent member for 65 years of the Washington Street Methodist Episcopal Church. In politics he was a Republican. At the time of his death at age 84, he was survived by his widow and nine (9) children. His sons served as pall bearers at his funeral
Caroline “Carrie” J. Peters - The First Interment?
“The Poughkeepsie Eagle” Saturday, December 10, 1853 reported “The first interment in the new Cemetery was made on Sunday last. It was the child of Mr. Peters, noticed under the obituary head.” as follows: “1st inst, in this village, Caroline J., only daughter of Daniel and Ellen Peters, aged 3 years 2 months 17 days.” (Note- “1st inst”. refers to the 1st day of the current month of publication - the usage of the era - inst = instant abbreviated)
A review of original record books in the possession of the cemetery revealed the earliest interments were recorded chronologically.
The 3rd interment is noted as follows:
Carrie J. Peters; daughter of Daniel and Ellen Peters; born Poughkeepsie; resided Poughkeepsie; died December 1, 1853; Interment December 4, 1853; Lot 61 Section J.
To date little has been found on Daniel and Ellen Peters other than what is found in the 1850 Federal Census for Poughkeepsie enumerated on August 6, 1850 which lists Daniel as a “baker” age 21 born New York and, Ellen as age 20, also born New York.
What is known from cemetery office records is the plot owners were Daniel and Jarvis J. Peters. Also buried in the plot are Charity H. Briggs died 1877, Esther H. Swan died 1856, Melinda Peters died 1901, and Rachel Higgins died 1872. The most interesting to this writer is the small individual monument for little Caroline still exists today. Although the inscription has worn away with time, the monument for this little flower stands in the shadow of a large evergreen and the individual monuments for the four (4) women interred with Caroline. Caroline’s grave is well guarded.
The first three (3) interments in Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery were all little flowers gone too young, but not forgotten.
Prepared for The Friends of Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery
by Virginia A. Buechele, October 17, 2009
J. E. SPINGARN
1875 - 1939
A simple, albeit large, stone slab measuring about 8 ½ feet long, 5 feet wide and 3 ½ inches in depth along with an American Legion grave marker memorialize the Section M Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery resting place of the earthly remains of Joel E. Spingarn, of Troutbeck.
The first paragraph of his local obituary published in the Evening Star June 27, 1939 reads:
J. E. Spingarn Dies in New York
"Joel E. Spingarn, 65, resident of Amenia and New York city, who was the country's leading authority on clematis, former university professor and literary scholar, a poet, soldier, horticulturist and uncompromising critic in diverse fields died yesterday at his New York home, 110 East 78th street, after having been ill since January."
The headline of his obituary in the New York Herald Tribune on the same day reads:
Col. Spingarn, Donor of Award For Outstanding Negroes, Dies
"Author, Horticulturist and Soldier, He Battled for Liberties of Individuals"
As this obituary continues. . . . .:
"He was a delegate to the first convention which founded the American Legion and was the first commander of the Legion post at Amenia, N.Y."
The preface of a 1972 work by B. Joyce Ross entitled J. E. Spingarn and the Rise of the NAACP 1911-1939 describes Joel Elias Spingarn as an incorporator of the NAACP, Chairman of its Board of Directors, Treasurer and President.
Much of the above is how those of us in Dutchess County recall to mind this famous person with an Amenia country estate. His first Dutchess purchase according to Dutchess County Deed records having occurred October 2, 1909 when Joel Elias Spingarn of the City, County and State of New York purchased from Martha E. Avery of the Borough of Brooklyn "part of the lands of William A. Benton, deceased". The description in part abstracted as follows: 202 5/10ths acres in Amenia with exceptions including (among others), a family burial ground for the descendants of Caleb Benton, enclosed by a stone wall.
However, as I gazed upon J. E. Spingarn's grave and as a family historian, I wanted to know more about his family than what was told in the closing paragraph of Col. Spingarn's 1939 Tribune obituary. "Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Amy Spingarn; two sons, Stephen J. and Edward D. W. Spingarn; two daughters, Hope and Honor Tranum Spingarn; his mother and three brothers. It was announced yesterday that his burial would be in Dutchess County and would be private."
As briefly as possible, I will attempt to share with you here what I have researched thus far.
Amy Einstein, daughter of wealthy New York manufacturer David Lewis Einstein was born in 1883 in New York City, married abt. 1906 Joel E. Spingarn, first of four son of wholesale tobacconist Elias and his wife Sarah (Barnett) Spingarn, and died June 25, 1980. After her husbands death Amy was a patron of the "Harlem Renaissance and supported the work of many black artists and writers, such as Langston Hughes."
From Federal Census records it can be determined that Joel and Amy's first child, Hope Spingarn was born about 1907. The New York Times announcement of her November 1, 1957 marriage in Bombay to Hitindra Malik of Bombay states that Hope studied at Sweet Briar College, the Sorbonne and the University of Grenoble in France. As a consultant in public relations, she went to India in 1955 served as a public relations consultant to the Family Planning Association of India. At this time the only further information on Hope comes from her sister Honor's 2008 obituary which states Honor visited her sister annually in England and that she was predeceased by her.
Stephen J. Spingarn was born September 1, 1908 in Bedford, New York, graduated from the University of Arizona in 1930 and the University's Law School in 1934. He was an administrative Assistant to President Harry S. Truman 1949-50 and served with John F. Kennedy on the Democratic National Committee's Small Business Advisory Committee 1956-57. Stephen died in August 1984
Honor Spingarn was born in 1910 and educated and raised in New York City. On August 14, 1937 at Troutbeck in Amenia, she married Carl Tranum. Together the couple resided in the Virgin Islands. Honor, having started painting at the age of 5, became a painter herself and designed textiles. During the "New Deal" she painted frescoes in New York City as a part of WPA projects. She was also an avid gardener. Honor Spingarn Tranum died Sept. 9, 2008 in St. Thomas, the Virgin Islands. She was survived by her son Joel, 3 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren, she was predeceased by her son Mark. Honor was the last surviving child of Joel and Amy Spingarn and was predeceased by her sister and two brothers.
Edward D. W. Spingarn was born October 22, 1911 in New York and spent his early years at Troutbeck. He graduated from the Kent School in Kent, Connecticut in 1929 and Bowdoin College in Maine in 1933. He also earned a master's degree in modern history at Harvard and was an economist and educator specializing in Asian Affairs in the International Money Fund. Edward married Elizabeth Gray Morison January 25, 1941. Edward died in Washington, DC May 7, 2005 at the age of 93. He was survived by his wife and a daughter Phillida Morison Alcantar of Hawaii. He was predeceased by his son Christopher L. M. Spingarn on June 3, 2000.
Research thus far has still left me wondering why Joel E. Spingarn, a son, a brother, a husband, father and more, is the single burial in the Spingarn Plot in Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery which he himself purchased July 9, 1938 approximately one year before his death. It certainly seems his children travelled far and wide and were very accomplished in their own right. This may very well explain why their father rests alone beneath the large slab of stone with the simple inscription that titles this article. Rest in Peace our friend and adopted Dutchess County son.
Prepared for Friends of Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery by Virginia A. Buechele, Oct.19, 2008
Wesley Smead (1800-1871) “Finally” at Rest 1879
The Smead Mausoleum resembles a church in appearance and is located on a knoll in the Center of Section E. As one gazes upon this imposing structure which can’t be missed on a leisurely walk through the cemetery, one can’t help but wonder who is interred within its walls, what life events preceded the interments in this ionic structure with its stately columns and, was there a story behind the mausoleum’s erection? Let us now explore the answers based on the author’s research.
When Spring arrives and the plantings in the cemetery are in bloom, a walk up to the opened cemetery door reveals two large sarcophagi just inside with a marble bust of Wesley Smead on a stand between them. The inscriptions on each sarcophagus read as follows;
Wesley Smead Delia Smead
Born 23 December 1800 Wife of Wesley
Died 6 January 1871 Died 26 December 1909
Cemetery office records confirm two interments in this massive structure.
Wesley Smead was born in Westchester County, worked as a newsboy, became a printer and later studied medicine at Ohio Medical College. Soon realizing the practice of medicine was a slow way to accumulate wealth, he practiced there as a druggist, very quickly accumulated wealth and loaned it with interest. In Cincinnati he also served as president of the Citizen’s bank and in 1850 founded the Widow’s Home there. His obituary published New York Times Jan. 7, 1871 reads “Death of Dr. Wesley Smead at Poughkeepsie . . .Poughkeepsie, N. Y., Jan. 6. - Dr. Wesley Smead died in this city to-night. He celebrated the seventieth anniversary of his birthday at the Morgan House [Poughkeepsie], two weeks ago, on which occasion he gave $5,000 to the Widows' Home in Cincinnati, making $37,000 he has given to that institution in all. He has also given liberally to charitable institutions in this city.”
At present it is not known exactly what brought Wesley Smead to Poughkeepsie. According to various published genealogies, Delia was not Wesley’s one and only wife. She is however believed to have been his last wife. Wesley Smead’s 1864 will, proven January 30, 1871 in Dutchess County Surrogate Court, names wife Delia as his executrix.
In 1910 several heirs of Delia sought to break her will. A November 22, 1910 Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle news article regarding the subject states “….Mrs. Smead, was born in Ireland. She had lived many years in this city, coming here in early life. She married Dr. Wesley Smead, an old man, whom she had served as a nurse for many years.” A widowed Delia Smead age 40 is enumerated in the 1880 Census for Poughkeepsie.
Although it is not known for certain where Dr. Smead’s earthly remains rested from the time of his death in 1871 until July 28, 1879 when they were finally laid to rest in his sarcophagus in the mausoleum, it may be conjectured they rested in the cemetery vault..
Cemetery office records reveal Mrs. Delia B. Smead took title to eleven (11) lots in Section E January 28, 1879. Through various newspaper articles the story of the erection of the Mausoleum is found.
Poughkeepsie Daily Press - April 6, 1874 - A Costly Sepulcher - “We learn that a mausoleum of Quincy Granite is to be constructed for the estate of Wesley Smead who died in this city in 1871. . . . .at about $50,000. . . . .expected, will be one of the finest in the country.”
New York Times - April 8, 1874 - Costly Memorial of the Dead - “The exterior dimensions of the structure will be about eighteen feet above the ground.”
Poughkeepsie Daily Press - August 31, 1874 - Building Notes - “Mr. Broas [George E. Broas] has also been awarded the contract for setting the granite vault of the late Dr. Wesley Smead.. . . stones were cut in Boston . . . . . of large size and closely resembles a church in appearance.”
Dutchess Farmer - April 27, 1875 - “The Dr. Smead vault at the Cemetery is now completed, and adds another to the many beautiful and imposing structures which adorn the city of the dead.. . . . . some trouble between the contractors and the owner of the vault about the price. . . . involves about forty-thousand dollars will probably come before the courts. . .”
Poughkeepsie Daily Press - October 21, 1878 - The Smead Mausoleum - “The Smead mausoleum in the cemetery has been levelled [sic] to the ground and will be rebuilt. The cause of its demolition was the refusal of the widow of Dr. Smeade [sic] refusing to accept the work because she was dissatisfied with one or more of the blocks of granite used. Contractor is a Boston man. The huge granite blocks that were brought from eastern quarries required the united strength of six teams of horses to hall them to their destination. It is a big and bothersome job, the contractor has in hand.”
Poughkeepsie Daily Press - July 28, 1879 - A FINAL Resting Place - “The remains of the late Dr. Smead will be disinterred and placed in the sarcophagus designed for them at the Rural Cemetery to-day. Dr. Smead died about 10 years ago.”
Considering the imposing size of Dr. Smead’s final resting place, one directive in Delia Smead’s will seems unusual. Delia directs that after her interment in the mausoleum there are to be no further burials ever in the “Tomb” and no flowers shall at any time ever be placed in said tomb. The keys and deed to the twelve (12) plots of land surrounding it are to be delivered to her nephew, Thomas W. Burke, to be held by him forever.
There are still many questions to be answered regarding the life and times of Wesley and Delia Smead. However, it is certain they both rest in peace in an impressive ionic church-like structure in Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery among “many beautiful and imposing structures which adorn the city of the dead” or, what we prefer to term Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery.
Prepared for Friends of Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery by Virginia A. Buechele, April 12, 2008 - The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery Office Manager Vicki Fells and James Storrow for their assistance in providing resources used in the preparation of this article.